Staff member

Núria Camarero Palao

Staff member publications

Blasi D, Gonzalez-Pato N, Rodriguez Rodriguez X, Diez-Zabala I, Srinivasan SY, Camarero N, Esquivias O, Roldán M, Guasch J, Laromaine A, Gorostiza P, Veciana J, Ratera I, (2023). Ratiometric Nanothermometer Based on a Radical Excimer for In Vivo Sensing Small 19, 2207806

Ratiometric fluorescent nanothermometers with near-infrared emission play an important role in in vivo sensing since they can be used as intracellular thermal sensing probes with high spatial resolution and high sensitivity, to investigate cellular functions of interest in diagnosis and therapy, where current approaches are not effective. Herein, the temperature-dependent fluorescence of organic nanoparticles is designed, synthesized, and studied based on the dual emission, generated by monomer and excimer species, of the tris(2,4,6-trichlorophenyl)methyl radical (TTM) doping organic nanoparticles (TTMd-ONPs), made of optically neutral tris(2,4,6-trichlorophenyl)methane (TTM-αH), acting as a matrix. The excimer emission intensity of TTMd-ONPs decreases with increasing temperatures whereas the monomer emission is almost independent and can be used as an internal reference. TTMd-ONPs show a great temperature sensitivity (3.4% K-1 at 328 K) and a wide temperature response at ambient conditions with excellent reversibility and high colloidal stability. In addition, TTMd-ONPs are not cytotoxic and their ratiometric outputs are unaffected by changes in the environment. Individual TTMd-ONPs are able to sense temperature changes at the nano-microscale. In vivo thermometry experiments in Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) worms show that TTMd-ONPs can locally monitor internal body temperature changes with spatio-temporal resolution and high sensitivity, offering multiple applications in the biological nanothermometry field.© 2023 The Authors. Small published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.

JTD Keywords: dual emission, elegans, excimer emission, fluorescence, in vivo sensing, luminescence, nanoparticles, organic radical nanoparticles, ratiometric nanothermometers, sensors, thermometry, trityl radicals, Caenorhabditis elegans, Excimer emission, In vivo sensing, Intracellular ph, Luminescence, Organic radical nanoparticles, Ratiometric nanothermometers, Trityl radicals

Camarero, N., Trapero, A., Pérez-Jiménez, A., Macia, E., Gomila-Juaneda, A., Martín-Quirós, A., Nevola, L., Llobet, A., Llebaria, A., Hernando, J., Giralt, E., Gorostiza, P., (2020). Photoswitchable dynasore analogs to control endocytosis with light Chemical Science 11, (33), 8981-8988

The spatiotemporal control of cellular dynamic processes has great fundamental interest but lacks versatile molecular tools. Dynamin is a key protein in endocytosis and an appealing target to manipulate cell trafficking using patterns of light. We have developed the first photoswitchable small-molecule inhibitors of endocytosis (dynazos), by a stepwise design of the photochromic and pharmacological properties of dynasore, a dynamin inhibitor. We have characterized their photochromism with UV-visible and transient absorption spectroscopy and their biological activity using fluorescence microscopies and flow cytometry. Dynazos are water-soluble, cell permeable, and photostable, and enable fast, single-wavelength photoswitchable inhibition of clathrin-mediated endocytosis at micromolar concentration.


Cabré, Gisela, Garrido-Charles, Aida, Moreno, Miquel, Bosch, Miquel, Porta-de-la-Riva, Montserrat, Krieg, Michael, Gascón-Moya, Marta, Camarero, Núria, Gelabert, Ricard, Lluch, José M., Busqué, F., Hernando, Jordi, Gorostiza, Pau, Alibés, Ramon, (2019). Rationally designed azobenzene photoswitches for efficient two-photon neuronal excitation Nature Communications 10, (1), 907

Manipulation of neuronal activity using two-photon excitation of azobenzene photoswitches with near-infrared light has been recently demonstrated, but their practical use in neuronal tissue to photostimulate individual neurons with three-dimensional precision has been hampered by firstly, the low efficacy and reliability of NIR-induced azobenzene photoisomerization compared to one-photon excitation, and secondly, the short cis state lifetime of the two-photon responsive azo switches. Here we report the rational design based on theoretical calculations and the synthesis of azobenzene photoswitches endowed with both high two-photon absorption cross section and slow thermal back-isomerization. These compounds provide optimized and sustained two-photon neuronal stimulation both in light-scattering brain tissue and in Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes, displaying photoresponse intensities that are comparable to those achieved under one-photon excitation. This finding opens the way to use both genetically targeted and pharmacologically selective azobenzene photoswitches to dissect intact neuronal circuits in three dimensions.


Matera, C., Gomila, A. M. J., Camarero, N., Libergoli, M., Soler, C., Gorostiza, P., (2019). Photochromic antifolate for light-activated chemotherapy Proceedings of SPIE 17th International Photodynamic Association World Congress , SPIE (Cambridge, USA) 11070, 110709H

Although cytotoxic chemotherapy is one of the primary pharmacological treatments for chronic hyperproliferative diseases such as cancer and psoriasis, its efficacy and tolerability are in many cases dramatically limited by off-target toxicity. A promising approach to improve these therapies is to activate the drugs exclusively at their desired place of action. In fact, in those diseases that would benefit from a highly localized treatment, a precise spatiotemporal control over the activity of a chemotherapeutic agent would allow reducing the concentration of active compound outside the targeted region, improving the tolerability of the treatment. Light is a powerful tool in this respect: it offers unparalleled opportunities as a non-invasive regulatory signal for pharmacological applications because it can be delivered with high precision regarding space, time, intensity and wavelength. Photopharmacology represents a new and emerging approach in this regard since the energy of light is used to change the structure of the drug and hence to switch its pharmacological activity on and off on demand. We describe here phototrexate, the first light-regulated inhibitor of the human DHFR. Enzyme and cell viability assays demonstrated that phototrexate behaves as a potent antifolate in its cis configuration, obtained under UVA illumination, and that it is nearly inactive in its dark-relaxed trans form. Experiments in zebrafish confirmed that phototrexate can disrupt folate metabolism in a light-dependent fashion also in vivo. Overall, phototrexate represents a potential candidate towards the development of an innovative photoactivated antifolate chemotherapy.

JTD Keywords: Cancer, Dermatology, Methotrexate, Photoactivated chemotherapy, Photodynamic therapy, Phototherapy, Psoriasis, Rheumatoid arthritis

Matera, Carlo, Gomila-Juaneda, Alexandre, Camarero, Núria, Libergoli, Michela, Soler, Concepció, Gorostiza, Pau, (2018). A photoswitchable antimetabolite for targeted photoactivated chemotherapy Journal of the American Chemical Society 140, (46), 15764-15773

The efficacy and tolerability of systemically administered anticancer agents are limited by their off-target effects. Precise spatiotemporal control over their cytotoxic activity would allow improving chemotherapy treatments, and light-regulated drugs are well suited to this purpose. We have developed phototrexate, the first photoswitchable inhibitor of the human dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR), as a photochromic analog of methotrexate, a widely prescribed chemotherapeutic drug to treat cancer and psoriasis. Quantification of the light-regulated DHFR enzymatic activity, cell proliferation, and in vivo effects in zebrafish show that phototrexate behaves as a potent antifolate in its photoactivated cis configuration, and that it is nearly inactive in its dark-relaxed trans form. Thus, phototrexate constitutes a proof-of-concept to design light-regulated cytotoxic small molecules, and a step forward to develop targeted anticancer photochemotherapies with localized efficacy and reduced adverse effects.

JTD Keywords: Photopharmacology, Photodynamic therapy, Antiproliferative, Arthritis, Psoriasis, Nanomedicine

Ruiz, Marta P., Aragones, Albert C., Camarero, Nuria, Vilhena, J. G., Ortega, Maria, Zotti, Linda Angela, Perez, Ruben, Cuevas, Juan Carlos, Gorostiza, Pau, Díez-Pérez, Ismael, (2017). Bioengineering a single-protein junction Journal of the American Chemical Society 139, (43), 15337–15346

Bioelectronics moves toward designing nanoscale electronic platforms that allow in vivo determinations. Such devices require interfacing complex biomolecular moieties as the sensing units to an electronic platform for signal transduction. Inevitably, a systematic design goes through a bottom-up understanding of the structurally related electrical signatures of the biomolecular circuit, which will ultimately lead us to tailor its electrical properties. Toward this aim, we show here the first example of bioengineered charge transport in a single-protein electrical contact. The results reveal that a single point-site mutation at the docking hydrophobic patch of a Cu-azurin causes minor structural distortion of the protein blue Cu site and a dramatic change in the charge transport regime of the single-protein contact, which goes from the classical Cu-mediated two-step transport in this system to a direct coherent tunneling. Our extensive spectroscopic studies and molecular-dynamics simulations show that the proteins’ folding structures are preserved in the single-protein junction. The DFT-computed frontier orbital of the relevant protein segments suggests that the Cu center participation in each protein variant accounts for the different observed charge transport behavior. This work is a direct evidence of charge transport control in a protein backbone through external mutagenesis and a unique nanoscale platform to study structurally related biological electron transfer.


Izquierdo-Serra, M., Bautista-Barrufet, A., Trapero, A., Garrido-Charles, A., Diaz-Tahoces, A., Camarero, N., Pittolo, S., Valbuena, S., Perez-Jimenez, A., Gay, M., Garcia-Moll, A., Rodriguez-Escrich, C., Lerma, J., De La Villa, P., Fernandez, E., Pericas, M. A., Llebaria, A., Gorostiza, P., (2016). Optical control of endogenous receptors and cellular excitability using targeted covalent photoswitches Nature Communications 7, 12221

Light-regulated drugs allow remotely photoswitching biological activity and enable plausible therapies based on small molecules. However, only freely diffusible photochromic ligands have been shown to work directly in endogenous receptors and methods for covalent attachment depend on genetic manipulation. Here we introduce a chemical strategy to covalently conjugate and photoswitch the activity of endogenous proteins and demonstrate its application to the kainate receptor channel GluK1. The approach is based on photoswitchable ligands containing a short-lived, highly reactive anchoring group that is targeted at the protein of interest by ligand affinity. These targeted covalent photoswitches (TCPs) constitute a new class of light-regulated drugs and act as prosthetic molecules that photocontrol the activity of GluK1-expressing neurons, and restore photoresponses in degenerated retina. The modularity of TCPs enables the application to different ligands and opens the way to new therapeutic opportunities.


Nevola, L., Martín-Quirós, A., Eckelt, K., Camarero, N., Tosi, S., Llobet, A., Giralt, E., Gorostiza, P., (2013). Light-regulated stapled peptides to inhibit protein-protein interactions involved in clathrin-mediated endocytosis Angewandte Chemie - International Edition 52, (30), 7704-7708

Control of membrane traffic: Photoswitchable inhibitors of protein-protein interactions were applied to photoregulate clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME) in living cells. Traffic light (TL) peptides acting as "stop" and "go" signals for membrane traffic can be used to dissect the role of CME in receptor internalization and in cell growth, division, and differentiation.

JTD Keywords: Clathrin-mediated endocytosis, Optopharmacology, Peptides, Photoswitches, Protein-protein interactions